the Christmas letter we didn’t send

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even when it’s overcast, Napa’s still beautiful–January

Every year since Jack was born, Russ and I send one of those typed letters out along with our Christmas card.  I spend more time than is necessary drafting and re-drafting these letters, sifting through a year’s worth of photos to jog my memory of things that have happened, and because I know these letters can often be long, dry and dull, I try really, really hard to make them funny.

When it comes to wanting to blab on about one’s children and their antics, I am guilty as charged.  And more than once last year I had a friend make a joke about needing to pull up a chair and a cup of coffee to settle in for a long winter’s read upon the arrival of our card–well, not our card but the recap of our lives printed in 10-point font (I’m looking at you, book club! 🙂  ).

But honestly, can you blame us?  Life with three little boys is deserving of a recap, if for no other reason than to serve as a warning to all our young friends out there still in the various stages of family-building…

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But I listened to my critics and this year, we sent a much more abbreviated letter, directing those who were in the need for a read (or who wanted to see the Christmas card photo runners-up) to this little blog I’ve been keeping.  (So if you’re new here, welcome!  I hope you’ll make it a habit to drop by!)

And away we go…

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Jack is truthfully a grown-up in a 7-and-a-half-year-old’s body.  He loves to play chess, fiddle around on the computer, work on logic puzzles with family members and read himself to sleep at night.

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He started 2nd grade this year at Trinity and has fallen in love with History and Social Studies.  He still adores math and has been working on projects in Robotics (yes, really!) with a group of other 2nd graders.  He can build an architectural masterpiece out of Legos, and he is into extreme fort-building–a sport which involves the use of beanbag chairs, pillows, a parachute and all available bed linens.

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He has played baseball and basketball so far this year, but has truly found a passion in running.  Jack ran in a few small school-sponsored races and did spectacularly well for someone who is only 7.  He keeps after me to sign him up for a “real race,” but we are having a tough time finding one that doesn’t conflict with his other sports.  He is a competitive, serious and very coachable athlete.

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Jack still wants to be a vet when he grows up, so you can hardly imagine his excitement at getting to don a wetsuit and enter the water during the Dolphin Experience in the Bahamas over his Spring Break.  Unfortunately, this also coincided with us discovering he is allergic to latex.  Thankfully, the dolphin people had mercy on the little guy and let him come in the water to meet Wee-Tee the dolphin.  Look closely and you might be able to see the gigantic welts all over poor Jack’s body.

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We’re pretty sure Jack could subsist totally on foods that begin with the letter C:  Cheerios, chicken, cantaloupe…his latest excuse for being a picky eater is that he has several wiggly teeth.  The tooth fairy has visited our house four times now–the last time was prematurely after Tucker knocked out one of Jack’s top teeth, which was a moderately traumatic moment for Jack since he is the most passive tooth-loser ever.  No tying a string around a tooth here.  We wait until gravity does its thing.

Finally, we have had a great time this year joking with Jack about his hair.  He has crazy, floppy curly hair that goes wild while he sleeps and even wilder if it gets the tiniest bit too long.  His mop of hair has earned him the nickname of “Bird-Nest Head” in our house.  Jack considers bird-nesting one of his special talents and claims the photo below as his best showing, “especially since both sides are flipping up like a real bird nest does.”

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Sometimes we are just amazed at how grown up our little guy is.

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Tucker will turn 6 a mere 10 days after Christmas and has requested–in true Tucker-form–a “Grossology” birthday party.

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He started Kindergarten at Trinity this fall and showed up for Meet-and-Greet day sporting a pair of ridiculous fake teeth he had stashed in his pocket when I wasn’t looking.  Fortunately, his teachers also have a great sense of humor.

He has quickly made lots of friends and is right at home at his new school.  Tuck enjoys science and World Languages (he is taking Spanish) and loves that the Trinity playground has giant rock formations to climb.

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This kiddo is turning out to be our athlete.  He can balance on a boogie board in the swimming pool–a feat no one else in our family (including the adults–believe me, we’ve tried) can do.  He decided last January that he’d like to try to ride a 2-wheeled bike, hopped on and took off without falling over once.  He can climb a tree like nobody’s business, and his scooter-tricks are unparalleled.  Sweet Tucker also scored a basket in his very first basketball game.

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Airborne, baby!

IMG_3918This little trick? Way, WAY harder than it looks…

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We still call Tuck “the Goat” around here.  He will try anything you put in front of him–a nice change from his two brothers.  He currently asks for Chinese or Thai food on a regular basis and has already put in a request to visit the Happy Sumo for his birthday meal (he has definitely outgrown his fear of the “crazy chef-fing” that takes place there).

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IMG_6125Tuck’s first University of Georgia football game–October

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Tucker is the life of our party; with his sense of humor, kindness, fearlessness and creativity, he’s the type of friend you’d love to have.

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Theo turned 3 in late July and hasn’t stopped asking “why?” since then.  His inquiries range from predictable (“why you putting that in the dishwasher?”) to the thought-provoking (“why caterpillars turn into butterflies?”); the narrative (“why we stopping at this red light?”) to the downright random (“why the light go off in the ‘fridgerator when you close it?”).  One thing is certain:  he is full of questions, sun-up to sundown, and we love it.  On the way to school just this morning, he asked, “why ‘flingos [flamingos] only stand on one of their foots?”  Good question, Theo B., good question…

Theo would put butter on a rock and eat it.  Last year, he was caught drinking maple syrup straight from the bottle; this year, he’s been busted several times with a forkful of butter (but we could hardly expect less from a child who claims his favorite restaurant is Waffle House).

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no, we didn’t let him actually eat it…

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When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Theo will yell out “a train driver man!”  Ok, then.   (His answer is decidedly less concerning than Tucker’s answer:  “a daddy!  Who still lives right here!”) Theo could play trains all day.  It is beyond adorable to watch Jack, our original train fanatic, sit on the floor with Theo and build tracks that go up and down all over the bedroom.

Theo still hauls around a menagerie of items including his stuffed dogs (Dude-Doggy, Little Dog and Barker) and as many “dot-dots” (blankets) as we can stand to let him carry.  He is very particular and meticulous about all he does, often becoming very upset if things are not just right (like if he’s not given the “right” cup or if his banana breaks in half).  While this is sometimes frustrating for us, one of his teachers told us that the children she’d taught who had similar idiosyncracies all grew up to be surgeons–a career that might be a bit more modern than a train-driver-man.

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All three boys clearly are best pals.  It warms our hearts to see them running and wrestling (well, sort of; truth be told, it makes me extremely nervous) and to hear them laughing and playing.  The fact that they roam in a pack also means that they have 3 brains working hard at devising crazy things to do.  Jack and Tucker are generally the ringleaders and have truly enjoyed turning Theo into their “minion,” as they like to call him, when they are constructing forts, building contraptions or seeking a contraband snack.

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In addition to our child-free trip to Napa at the beginning of this year, we also took a trip to the Bahamas, and we able to spend a lot of time at the beach in Florida this past summer, which was divine.  The boys would live next to the ocean if they could (so would we).  Everything about Amelia Island is just perfect to us…

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a sun-bleached bird nest…

Our year was filled with goodness; everyone stayed healthy and happy.  Jack’s Dog, Tuck’s Purple and Dude-Doggy/Barker/Little Dog all stayed in one piece (thank you, Lord!). We worked on our patience and tolerance, particularly when some of us are strapped in car seats.  We caught (and released) all sorts of wildlife, and we explored everywhere we could.  Four-fifths of us can read, and all of us can write our names.  2011 was quite good to us!

We hope Santa is good to you, and we hope that your new year is filled with love, laughter and lots of good times!  Merry Christmas, everyone!

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